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Softbank completes buyout of UK’s ARM – accompanied by a note from Japan post-Brexit

Japan’s Softbank has confirmed that it’s completed the £23.4 billion buyout of the UK’s ARM chipset manufacturer after just two months – just as Japanese politicians have gone public with a message to the UK post-Brexit.

The Message to the United Kingdom and the European Union outlines the country’s concern around business uncertainty and its hope that “predictability is secured whereby all stakeholders, not just the negotiating parties, have a clear idea of the post-Brexit landscape”.

It highlights that some 440,000 jobs in Europe have been created by Japanese firms, concentrated in the UK, with almost half of Japanese direct investment made in the EU headed to British shores.

“A considerable number of Japanese businesses operating in Europe are concentrated in the UK,” the foreign ministry briefing says, just as G20 leaders, including those from the UK and Japan, met in China.

It has compiled a list of requests from these companies:

  • maintenance of trade in goods with no burdens of customs duties and procedures
  • unfettered investment
  • maintenance of an environment in which services and financial transactions across Europe can be provided and carried out smoothly
  • access to workforces with the necessary skills
  • harmonised regulations and standards between the UK and the EU

Softbank had pledged to double ARM’s workforce in the UK after the sale, with a view to getting ahead in Internet of Things chip manufacturing, but the document raises huge concerns from Japanese firms about the future for their European workers.

“The European labour market could suffer great turmoil if workers who are nationals of either the UK or EU Member States could not freely travel between and stay in the UK and Continental Europe,” it says.

The passporting system for financial services was also highlighted as a key asset to save, along with investment structures, data transfer terms and IP protections.